Tuesday, September 10, 2013

HOW ALDI GROCERY STORES WON ME OVER

ALDI-PHOBIA 

Are you afraid to try Aldi?  Do you think that the food is probably substandard or artificial and that they don't sell healthy, whole foods?  Are you confused by their system of locked up grocery carts and do you grimace at the thought of having to bag your own groceries?   Do you feel like buying strange brands you've never heard of is a complete gamble, like buying Beaumont Coffee, Millville cereal and Clancy's Chips?  Are you pretty sure the food quality is as low as the price?  Until a few years ago, I had those preconceived notions as well. But I gave Aldi a chance and it won me over.  Now it's my go-to grocery store.





GIVE ALDI A TRY

Check out their website: https://www.aldi.us/en/ and their page entitled, "New to Aldi?" https://www.aldi.us/en/new-to-aldi/shopping-at-aldi/

Aldi is owned by a German corporation known as Aldi Sud (Aldi south), whose sister company, Aldi Nord (Aldi North) acquired and owns Trader Joe's.  These Aldi stores are all over Germany and Europe, and span a total of 17 countries.  Being German owned, there are several food products at Aldi made in Germany.

Aldi on the whole has wonderful food.  Good produce, dairy products and dry goods.  Some of my favorite finds at Aldi are: 

WINE

Many of Aldi's wines are sold exclusively by Aldi stores.  There are wines from all over Europe, South Africa and California sold at Aldi.
Our favorite weeknight wines are all $4.99 per bottle.  Aldi carries a brand called Winking Owl which is $2.99 per bottle if you are looking for the lowest price.
These are our go-to weeknight white wines:
Landshut RieslingChaza Moscato
Sold Exclusively at Aldi, this Spanish red is our go-to weeknight red wine.
Viña Decana Tempranillo

DRY GOODS

Pistachios, walnuts, and pecans are very good
Chocolate - Aldi's Chocolates are superb and they are very inexpensive!  A great place to shop for Valentine's day or Easter basket chocolate.


Priano gourmet pasta
100% pomegranite juice
Simply Organic line of canned vegetables and foods
K-Cups

DAIRY

Greek Yogurt - Aldi's brand is just as good as brand names like Chobani.  Aldi carries Fage brand too!
Milk, Eggs, Butter - all as good as your supermarket's generic brand
String Cheese
Specially Selected Aged Cheddar - very good! And a great price.

SEASONAL ITEMS or LIMITED TIME FOODS

Wine of the Month
Mangoes & other seasonal produce
Fresh herbs like Cilantro
Cookie sprinkles in colors for the upcoming holiday
Collier's Twin Pack  - 2 x 400g
A wonderful, imported Welsch cheese available at Aldi at Holiday-time
Ferrera Rocher Chocolates for Christmas
Heart Shaped Boxed Chocolates by Russell Stover for Valentine's Day
Spekulatius Cookies (Traditional Belgian Speculoos spiced shortbread cookie), Ande's mints
Cheese balls or cheese logs for a party
Collier's extra powerful Welsch Cheddar - this is delicious and is less than $3 for a package!

GERMAN PRODUCTS

German coffee
German mustards
German Sauerkraut
German Sausages
German pretzels (canned in the refrigerated section)
German chocolate and cookies


Everything on this plate is from Aldi - the wrapped candy on the coffee saucer, the chocolate pralines, the chocolate covered bistro cookies and the chocolate covered wafer (bottom).  This is a welcome home plate I prepared for my husband after he returned from a fishing trip to Canada.

HOW TO NAVIGATE ALDI'S STORES

  • Keep quarters and reusable grocery bags in your car. 
  • When you arrive, go to the carts and slip a quarter in the slot near the chain. Make sure there's slack on the locked chain.  Once the quarter is in, the lock should pop right out. Now you've got your cart. Shop away!
  • If you don't see an item you want, feel free to ask a store clerk.  They can help you find things.  Often I'm surprised that they have something in the back that I thought they were out of or I just couldn't find.
  • When you are ready to check out, load your groceries on the conveyor belt as usual, but then turn your cart next to the cashier so he/she can re-load your cart with the groceries once scanned. It does look overwhelming seeing a huge cart of unbagged groceries, but it's not an issue once you're used to it. 
  • Pay for your groceries and then push your cart over to the long countertop so you can start bagging your groceries.
  • Bag your groceries and then take them out to your car to load them in your car. 

  • Return your cart to the lockup section and push the key from the chain on the cart in front of you into your cart's lock. Your quarter should pop right out.
Aldi etiquette:
  • often, another shopper may approach you as you are returning your cart to the lock up section and offer you a quarter for your cart. Take it and give them your cart. This saves everyone time.

ADVANTAGES TO SHOPPING AT ALDI:

  • Low prices on everything, every day.  No worries about overpaying or having to gather together 25 coupons and match them up with ads.  Extreme couponers would argue that they save more at stores which accept coupons.  But I love the freedom from spending hours clipping coupons, reading couponing ads and blogs, doing mental gymnastics in the store matching it all up and then holding up a line of people at the cash register.  I can shop with mental ease, get what I need, and get on with my day.
  • Quality food.  Much of it is exactly the same as the generic brands at your favorite grocery store. Some is even better - like their chocolates which are made in Germany, are better quality, more high quality ingredients and taste better than Nestle or Hershey.  Why shop at a specialty store for Belgian chocolates to give as gifts when you can go to Aldi and spend about $3.00 for the same thing?
  • I usually save 30% over stores such as Jewel and even SuperTarget.  For about $70 I can walk out of there with a huge cart full of healthy foods and quality toiletries.

DISADVANTAGES TO SHOPPING AT ALDI:

  • Many items are not always in stock
  • Some items are seasonal at Aldi, so they won't always offer the same specialty cheeses or winter foods like sauerkraut. Holiday items are featured for a limited time such as 4th of July cookie sprinkles, Valentine's day candy, or Spekulatius Cookies for Christmas. 
  • Some items are hit or miss, and not everyone will like their brands. For example, I still purchase my ketchup from SuperTarget because I don't like Aldi's brand of Ketchup.
  • You'll have to bag your own groceries. This takes time and can be cumbersome, but an advantage is I carry in a few large, fabric reusable bags instead of 25 small plastic bags.  Also, I can bag items properly and make sure that meat isn't touching produce, and the bread or other fragile items aren't getting smashed or roughly handled.
  • After you load your car with groceries, you have to return your cart back to the lock up section to get your quarter back.  
  • If you forget to bring bags, you'll end up spending money to buy bags or else end up with a trunk full of free-floating groceries.
  • They don't carry every food product you need or every variety you might want, like fat free sour cream, fresh herbs or specialty baking ingredients like bread flour.  So that means another trip to another store instead of one-stop shopping.

HOSTING A PARTY (inexpensively!)

Aldi is a great place to shop if you are having a party!  

Here is an Aldi grocery list for a NO-BAKE, NO COOK PARTY BUFFET: 

Hummus ($1.99) served with Baby Carrots & Pita Crackers
Variety package of crackers served with  Aged Cheddar Cheese block  ($2.69)
and an herb flavored Goat Cheese log ($1.99)
Tortilla Chips served with Salsa and Guacamole
Fresh strawberries & cut up pineapple
Pistachios, Walnuts Cocktail Mix Nuts
Artichokes Hearts with Relishes in Oil
Greek Kalamata Olives (available only around the Holidays)
Fresh mozzarella balls, tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar & sea salt to make Caprese salad (you'll need to find fresh basil from another source)         
Sandwiches made with Kaiser Rolls or Turano Bread (Turano Bread may only be in the Chicago area), and Spiral Ham & German mustard 
Jumbo (frozen) shrimp & cocktail sauce
Wine
Beer (German Pilsner, Dutch Beer, or South American Beer)
Italian lemonade/soda
Bottled water
Specially Selected Brioche
Beaumont Coffee
Creme Wafers 

German Chocolates
Spekulatius Cookies (Traditional Belgian spiced shortbread cookie available around Christmastime)
Ande's mints (available around the holidays)
Benton's Fudge Mint Cookies (exactly like Girl Scout Thin Mints)
Cafe Bistro Chocolate Covered butter cookies

Specially Selected Pizzelles, vanilla or anise flavored

Danish Butter Cookies in the tin


Fresh bouquet of flowers for your table (Roses $3.99) 

GIFT GIVING

Aldi has great stuff to give as gifts!

  • Russell Stover Chocolates for Valentine's day
  • Ferrera Rocher's for Christmas
  • German chocolates year 'round.
  • Exclusive, imported wines for $5
  • Fresh bouquets of flowers for $3.99 make great hostess gifts! 
  • House plants ($2.99 for a flowerpot of mums) could be a lovely housewarming present. 
  • Garden Mums
    Garden Mums  - $2.99 at Aldi
  • Aldi even sells kids' toys which can be given at Christmas or for birthdays. 
  • Varieties of candy for Easter baskets and Halloween.  
  • Kitchen electronics like toasters, waffle makers, cookie presses or baking gadgets can be great gifts as well.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking me shopping at Aldi! I try to go every couple of weeks now, and pretty much like everything I have tried from there. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for helping me see Aldi in a different light! I'm intrigued by their cheese selections and prices, and those mums for $2.99 are the lowest I've seen! I'll be sure to give Aldi a try!!

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  3. Thanks my friends! Rachel, thanks for giving me the idea to write this post. Laura you would love Aldi but you have to view it as you would GoodWill shopping - eagle eye searching for the inexpensive gourmet item! : ) Love ya both!

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  4. Very thorough post about Aldi. I started shopping at Aldi a few months ago and several more stores are now opening in my city. I am no longer afraid of shopping there! The savings are incredible and their house brand is sometimes better than the name brand.
    I have told a lot of people about the benefits of shopping at Aldi.
    Thanks for your excellent post

    ReplyDelete